Zinc and Diminished Taste Perception in Autism

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Children and adults with autism perceive sensory stimuli such as light, sound, taste, and touch differently than the average person.

At the bottom of this difference is imbalanced neurochemistry. Often times, this neurochemistry can be re-calibrated to bring sensory perception closer to the normal range. This re-calibration often results in substantial improvements in mood, social interaction, and behavior, partly due to increased comfort and ease.

Temple Grandin, a famous individual on the autism spectrum, stated that ‘eating problems usually have a sensory basis.’ She is exactly right. Taste perception is altered in autistic individuals, and therefore dietary preferences are altered as a result.

An essential ingredient not only for proper taste perception, but for proper functioning of other forms of sensory perception, is the mineral zinc. Without enough zinc, the neurons and brain cannot process sensory input correctly. This is just one of thousands of reasons zinc is essential for optimal functioning of anyone, not just those with autism.

Interestingly, autistic individuals consistently have low amounts of zinc in their bodies. Is this a coincidence? Not at all. Zinc supplementation has been shown to recover taste perception in certain individuals who have lost it. In addition to taste perception, zinc has a fundamental role in addressing many of the core problems in ASD including, not surprisingly, sensory perception. Does this mean that zinc supplementation is going to cure autism? No. There are more problems occurring in autism than just low zinc. Zinc is, however, a powerful addition to the a comprehensive approach to addressing autism.

At MindWhale, we assess your zinc status as part of the initial consultation. See the box below for more information, and call us at (385) 202-5154.

About Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS

Nicholas Hundley is a nutritional biochemist and certified nutrition specialist. He is the main author for the MindWhale blog at MindWhale.com. He practices nutrition and can be found at NicholasHundley.com

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